With their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame now set for later this year, Depeche Mode’s status as icons of music is now confirmed. Though they’re now global mega-stars, like all great bands, things started off a little more locally.
The band’s humble beginnings take place in the sordid halls of the thriving music scene in south Essex. The Basildon natives spent much of their formative years playing clubs and halls around the county. One night, they landed at Southend Technical College and debuted what would go on to be known as one of their most iconic songs, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’.
Basildon boys Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher have all been a rather rocky journey to their now-lofty position. It’s been a journey filled with band departures, personal pain, and flagrant drama with their keyboardist and songwriter Vince Clarke quitting the band to join Alison Moyet in Yazoo, following the release of their debut album Speak and Spell. But before Depeche Mode hit the rocks, they began their climb to the top of the mountain with a run of local shows.
The band, who had only recently changed their name from Composition of Sound and introduced a young Dave Gahan into the mix, were a revelation in the towns of Essex. With punk now becoming more of a pastiche than a movement, people were looking to the dancefloors for something a little more joyous. The group took to the stage with their synths and their leather-clad, perfumed look offered the youth a chance to dance.
Gahan once said of the song, “I was maybe 18, almost 19. The punk thing had just kind of ended, but there were still a few people who were hanging out in the clubs in London, who were trying to play music that you could dance to a bit more that wasn’t so violent, and “Just Can’t Get Enough” became one of those. We had a group of friends at the time who would go to these different clubs, dressed like we were in the video, sort of leather-y stuff.”
In November of 1980, the new romantic movement was beginning to take shape and leaders of the revolution were Depeche Mode. They didn’t know it yet but they were a few short months away from completing their debut record and challenging the status quo of what rock and roll really was. But before that they had to deliver a message to the dancefloors of England. One of the lucky venues to have been graced by the band in their inflammatory beginnings was Southend-On-Sea Technical College in 1980.
The band deliver a quite wonderful set which sees ‘King Of Strangers’, ‘A Nice Surprise’ and ‘Ice Machine’ all performed with a sincere intensity. But the real momentous occasion (though nobody knew it) would arrive with the band’s debut of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. A seminal moment in the career of Depeche Mode.
Listen below to the moment Depeche Mode debuted their notorious song ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’: